Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The blue bus speaking in my mind.

About dreams, DeLillo, and the like. Sort of a mental note, which is why I'm not putting much introduction here. (Trying to change what I use this blog for, so this is one way to do that, I guess.)

In Americana, perhaps the best book I've ever read and--because of that--one that I do not fully understand, David Bell, our narrator comes to the realization that he dreams in color. Here's the quote (transcribed by my hand from the book for all you copyright nazis):
I had some frightening dreams that night and in the morning one image in particular stayed with me, a blue bus moving down a highway in the desert, and the picture was so clear in my mind that I might still have been asleep and dreaming, that flash of bright blue metal across the lionskin desert. For the first time in my life I could be certain that I dreamed in color. I don't know why but this cheered me tremendously. (235)
 The background is that David Bell is in television. I think that's a pretty direct link to both dreaming and the color vs black and white divide. But besides I'm not going to speculate on the significance of this "image." I do think it's quite funny to find the way the bit is structured: DeLillo lets his protagonist play English teacher and tell us that this is an important moment in relation to a specific image. Not quite a "symbol," but at that point the pun would be overdone.

Why then does this detail recur to me now, months after finishing the novel? It's a connection: the story of my life is one of linkages, metaphors if you will. I almost never handle a situation without casting it in some albeit questionable context. I've recently come to a stronger realization of the ways in which I, myself, begin to dream. These revelations placed in my mind the seed that grew into the urge to find this quote in Americana, not because of the coloration of my dreams, but due to their sound.

Like I said, the connections are questionable. I have a habit of confusing "orange" and "purple"--the words, not the colors--and end up saying one when I mean the other. I like to think that most of my contextual thinking makes more sense than that. (Even though, in context, it makes a lot of sense to have brought this up, since, before I got derided from my original train of thought because I needed to switch tracks to get to my point, I was talking about colors.)

As I begin to fall asleep, I become less and less aware of the origins of the thoughts in my head. I am no expert on even my own dreams, but I do think that they begin with voices. It's awkward to say it, but often I can recognize them. As in I can register that that's my father speaking, but cannot trace back the words as if they were something I controlled being formed. Perhaps this is something I've written about: the taunt of a character in a short story that I wrote a few years back comes from his father-in-law. I guess it's not a rare plot device.

And yet, something irks me. It could be my passion for declaring myself insane (i.e. the unnecessary titles of several journals I never really wrote anything in having something to do with documenting craziness), a sort of mental hypochondria that ascribes these thoughts to a very, very mild form of schizophrenia. Still, I think, either way, that it's beneficial to document these little understandings of ourselves somewhere and this seemed like the place for it.

So while working this out in my head, night after night, although I was not cheered tremendously, as David Bell has it, I was amused at the fact that I thought I had a better picture of myself, the way my mind works, and what it makes me. You can never learn more about who you are, as long as you never form the delusion that you are somehow special, unique, one of a kind.

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